SHAWNEE, Kan. — They usually work together keeping the public safe. On Saturday night, first responders from the metro will fight against one another at the annual Kansas City Guns and Hoses boxing event at Bartle Hall.
As police and firefighters duke it out this weekend, they’re helping raise money for the families of fallen first responders.
Romell Richardson and Jeff Krall aren’t merely amateur boxers; they’re first responders, working in law enforcement and fire prevention in the metro. Richardson works as a Kansas City Police Department metro patrol officer. Krall serves as an emergency medical tech with Lawrence Fire and Rescue. Both fighters train at RNE Boxing in Shawnee.
When ring lights shine on Saturday night, they’ll step through the ropes, boxing as part of the night’s fights at Guns and Hoses. That annual event helps raise money for SAFE, a non-profit agency that awards money and support to families of fallen police and firefighters.
“We’re all a big family when it comes down to it,” Richardson said. “The majority of our calls are together. We see each other every day. It’s a camaraderie. Not a rivalry.”
The 10th edition of Guns and Hoses is the first since October 12, when Kansas City firefighters Larry Leggio and John Mesh lost their lives battling a huge apartment fire in the city’s northeast.
“It breaks our hearts. We don’t think about it when we’re going into a call. You really can’t think about,” Krall said. “You have to put that aside and say they need us.”
Some first responders pay with their lives. Patty Glaser’s son, John, was a Shawnee firefighter. The father of two died in 2010 while attempting to rescue people from a burning building. Glaser says SAFE presented her with a check that same week.
“When tragedies like ours happened, and this one that just happened, that it’s a community effort. That’s what SAFE is all about,” Patty Glaser said. “They were there for us. We’re not forgotten.”
Both Richardson and Krall say the sport of boxing helps them manage the stress of their daily lives. Their daily goal is the same — simply to go home at night — and they’re boxing in memory of those who can’t.
Tickets for Guns and Hoses are available via Ticketmaster or at the Bartle Hall doors on Saturday night.